K-9 Fila officer leaves his paw print on Conroe ISD

Sitting in his swivel chair with a frayed tennis ball in his hand, Constable Joel Armstrong smiles. The smile comes from deep within him, running behind his eyes and between his teeth, and you might be wondering where he finds that joy. Your eyes are drawn to the bright yellow orb rolling in his palm, and your gaze is matched by Fila, the 11-year-old German Shepherd sitting placidly at his feet.

Even when Officer Armstrong and Fila are the only others in the room, you feel like you’re intruding on something deeply intimate and personal, the camaraderie between them is so obvious and intense that it doesn’t need to be separated and explained, but just witnessed. . After nine years of doing drug research for the Conroe ISD Police Department, Fila is ready to retire. Officer Armstrong makes it clear that this is something to celebrate, not mourn.

Fila was raised in Holland and her name means “free spirit” in Dutch. You might immediately feel like his name is almost too much on the nose, his ears pointed skyward, his eyes wide and sharp, and his legs strong from his wild run. Officer Armstrong says Fila is smart, both traditionally and emotionally. When he began training him to find drug caches—part of standard K-9 training practices—he realized he had to get creative. The ever-cunning Fila would always find a loophole, a way to “cheat” the task. She slyly watched him place it or analyzed his steps.


Eventually, Officer Armstrong had enough of Fila’s antics, hiding the drug stash in an air duct high in the ceiling. Checkmate, he thought confidently. What he didn’t realize, however, was that Fila was so perceptive that she could identify and interpret small, erratic changes in his body language. She saw his eyes flashing at the ceiling every once in a while, so she followed precisely where he was looking and stared at the “cache” to show that she knew exactly what he was doing. Your gesture, she seemed to answer.

Officer Armstrong jokes that Fila is at the top of the ladder in her house, cutting off the “Do you love Fila more than…” question with an immediate yes. But even when he laughs at the question, you don’t get the sense he’s exaggerating with his answer. You can tell by the way he looks at her that he feels out of place when she’s not around. You can tell that every time he drives his car, he suddenly checks and wonders where she is before realizing that she never walked. We feel that there is a language between them that only they can speak, their little game of cat and mouse – or should I say man and dog – played with a smile. Officer Armstrong confides in and trusts Fila, and she loves him for it.


The joy is contagious here at the station, and you now understand the source of it, feeling that same smile you saw plastered on Agent Armstrong’s face tugging at your lips. Fila’s journey – crossing the vast blue ocean, finding her home with Officer Armstrong, displaying the utmost intelligence and bravery in her search – will not end with her “retirement”. It will only bring a new chapter of Fila being perfectly herself. Thank you for your service Fila.

This story was written by Siddhanth Pacipala, Senior in the Academy of Science and Technology at Woodlands College Park High School as part of a partnership between Conroe ISD’s Communications Department and the Education Summer Internship Program for Tomorrow Alliance.


Comments are closed.